News Column

Group to stage water crisis drama on the Kanawha River

May 29, 2014

By Zack Harold, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.

May 29--Coming soon to a barge near you: a New York theater group plans to perform a play based on the recent Elk River chemical spill from a floating stage on the Kanawha River.

Starting June 12, the New Brooklyn Theater Company will stage an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People."

The play, produced in association with Boston University's Professional Theater Initiative, will be performed from a floating stage at the Kanawha River public access dock near the Frontier building along MacCorkle Ave.

The original play, written in Norway in 1882, tells the story of a man who discovers the water in his town is being polluted by local industry. The man tries to call attention to the pollution by alerting the press and the local government but is silenced again and again.

New Brooklyn Theater artistic director Jonathan Solera said the plot is strikingly similar to January's chemical spill that left hundreds of thousands of Kanawha Valley residents without potable water.

"Which is kind of scary, to think 130 years have passed and not too much has changed," he said.

The production will feature local actors alongside performers from the New Brooklyn Theater.

Solera, who is directing the new adaptation, said his goal as a theater artist is to use drama as "a catalyst for actual, positive social change" and to perform theater outside of traditional venues.

The group's last project was "The Death of Bessie Smith," a play they performed in the soon-to-be-closed Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn. The hospital is now back on its feet thanks in part to the attention garnered by the theater production.

Solera hopes "An Enemy of the People" will draw similar attention to the chemical spill. He said the production is especially poignant since it will be performed on the river with the West Virginia State Capitol in the background.

The group plans to host a discussion with audience members and local officials after each show, to "kind of use our play as a way to ground peoples' opinions of what happened," Solera said.

"We're not trying to preach anything. We're trying to create a conversation," he said.

Performances of "An Enemy of the People" will begin Thursday, June 12, at 7:30 p.m. Subsequent performances will be June 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28 and 29, at 7:30 each night.

This Saturday, New Brooklyn Theater will host "Conversations and Cocktails" at the Craik-Patton House at 2809 Kanawha Boulevard E. to help raise money for the production.

The event begins at 6 p.m. and will feature bluegrass and old-time music, catering, drinks courtesy of Bridge Brew Works, a silent auction featuring artwork from local artists and gifts from local businesses, as well as a reading by New Brooklyn Theater's actors.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $18 at the door. To make reservations, visit

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-4830 or Follow him on Twitter at


(c)2014 the Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, W.Va.)

Visit the Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, W.Va.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters